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The majority of the UK population reserves a special place in their heart for animals. We are more likely to respond to a report of an animal being mistreated that we are to most other news stories. This should make fundraising for animal charities a breeze, however, there is a lot of competition from other organisations and, as the funds are often needed on an on-going basis, it is important to keep generating new ways to attract valuable donations. Here are our top 25 fundraisers for animals.
Not a new idea, but often a successful one, the sponsored dog walk is a great way to get animal lovers together for a bit of exercise and friendly competition. Sponsored dog walks give dog owners a chance to socialise their pets with a range of different dogs too, which they may not have the opportunity to do very often. If you have a lot of dog walking volunteers at your animal shelter, maybe they could each take one of the residents on the walk too. It would help to socialise the dogs and seeing them out and about may encourage an adoption or two from other participants.
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Canisports (running, cycling or scooting with your dog) is growing in popularity and you can either enter a general event that allows canisport participants, take part in a dedicated canisport competition or freestyle it and map your own course. Generally speaking, the bigger the challenge the more success you will have using it as a fundraising opportunity, but make sure you choose a terrain and a distance with which both you and your dog are familiar, otherwise you may jeopardise your chances of completing the course.
If you are fundraising for a particular thing, such as a new cattery building or a pioneering surgery for an injured animal, it may be worth looking to raise online donations with crowdfunding.
Fundraising campaigns such as these work best for projects with a clear monetary goal and success can be optimised by offering incentives for certain amounts of money pledged. Maybe you could have a ‘thank you’ wall in the cattery with a tile dedicated to each person who contributes more than £100 to the project, or send a branded thank you mug with the picture of the patient to anyone who contributes more than £50 to the surgery? Causes.com or GoFundMe offer crowdfunding options specifically for not-for-profit organisations and can provide more details about setting up your campaigns.
Bathing and grooming the dog is often perpetually at the bottom of a dog owner’s to-do list. Many dogs really don’t enjoy it and it is no fun for an owner to lean over a domestic bath and attempt to get Fido clean whilst simultaneously trying to stop him jumping out and shaking all over everything.
Dog owners would therefore pay handsomely to hand the task over to someone else who has all the proper kit and can do a better job. You could do this as a well publicised one-off event or, if you have enough volunteers to man it, make it a regular occurrence. You could even increase the money-making potential by selling tea, coffee and cake to owners while they wait for their dogs to be smartened up.
Ask local businesses, such as supermarkets and village stores, to see if they would be happy to have a pet food donation point on their premises. People who can’t afford to give money - or prefer not to - may well be persuaded to pop a tin of pet food or a box of dog biscuits into a donation bin. This set up also allows the animals in your care to benefit when, through bereavement or a change of circumstances, people are left with pet products they no longer require.
Social media is awash with the evidence that people think their own pets are pretty darned adorable. Capitalise on this and generate some revenue for your cause by hosting a pet photo shoot. You could team up with a local photographer to offer a photography day at the shelter, with 15-minute mini photography sessions that people can book for a small fee (which goes to the charity). The photographer can make their money when clients decide to buy prints or digital copies of the photographs taken.
If you know of a pub that welcomes dogs and has the space for well-attended quiz night, approach them to see if they would consider working with your charity to host one. The benefits are mutual, as your supporters may be delighted to find a new place to go for a drink that also welcomes their four-legged friend, and dog-owning regulars at the pub may be your charity’s loyal devotees of tomorrow.
Top Tip - Theme the quiz (or at least a round of questions) around animals and have a mid-quiz break, during which you can provide your audience with a short introduction to the work that your charity does.
Raffle ticket sales are an easy way to generate revenue for a cause or charity. You can approach all the pet-focused businesses in the local area to donate prizes, as contributing will be good PR for their brand and may generate future sales for them from among your supporters. For their part, your pet-owning supporters will probably be keen to purchase tickets for prizes that are so relevant to their needs – or, more accurately, their pets' needs.
Get your charity # trending online by running a photo competition. Encourage people to submit their favourite picture of their pet(s), create a shortlist of finalists and then return to your social media following to get them to vote for the winner. This should help to boost your social media following, as well as raise money for your cause.
These can either feature images of your supporters’ pets or, if you would like a more professional product, get a photographer to capture the most photogenic animals in your care. The latter option gives you the opportunity to tell the stories of animals featured and spread the word about the work done by the charity.
This works best for the animals that, for one reason or another, are likely to be at the shelter for an extended period of time. Whether they have behavioural problems due to a poor start in life or require extra care for a long term illness, they are bound to touch the heart of a kind-hearted supporter, who will be happy to sponsor their care in return for updates on how they are getting along.
There are lots of animal lovers out there who are not able to keep their own pets, perhaps because they work long hours or because they live in rented accommodation that does not permit tenants to have pets. Whatever the reason, they would jump at the chance to meet some of the animals in your care.
It has been proved that cuddling and playing with puppies and kittens can relax and de-stress, so why not host a family friendly event where people can donate in return for visiting your venue and having a cuddle with your cutest animal residents? It would need to be carefully supervised and cleared with the vet, but it could prove to be a popular fundraiser.
Buy some dog beer, bake some doggie delicacies and invite your supporters to bring their four-legged friends along for a drink and a bite to eat.
Top Tip - Make the dog drinks and snacks complimentary and charge for the human refreshments! You may be able to get a certain amount of the treats for the dogs free from local suppliers who may be grateful for the PR and marketing opportunity of being involved in your event – it’s always worth asking.
So many children are desperate for a pet but are unaware of the effort required to look after one. Running pet care classes will either put them off or make them the responsible animal owners that their parents want them to be.
Top Tip - Make it a fun event for the entire family by selling refreshments to parents waiting for their children to finish their class. It may also be worth asking a photographer along to take pictures of the event, which you can use for marketing purposes (or even sell to parents to raise a bit extra). Just make sure you get the okay from parents to take pictures of their children on the day.
The ins and outs of what your charity does may seem obvious to you, but it may not be to others. By holding an open day you can educate families in the local area about what you do and raise valuable funds in the process.
Top Tip - If you can offer enough in the way of stalls and activities during your open day, you can charge a small entry fee, which is a great way to kick-start your day’s fundraising.
Not only a great way to make money for your cause on an on-going basis, selling branded merchandise such as keyrings, t-shirts, mugs and pens is an effective way to get the charity’s name out there and keep what you do at the forefront of people’s minds. You can hold dedicated sales events and have the items available to buy on an on-going basis at your premises and on your website.
Produce branded cards that people can buy on your website or from your premises. If you have the admin time these can be created specifically for Easter, Christmas and birthdays, but if you want something easy that can be used for any occasion and re-stocked with the minimum of hassle, just go for blank note cards featuring your most photogenic residents. Use the space on the back to provide a brief explanation of what the charity does, as the card’s recipient may not know.
Many pet owners are reluctant to clip their pet’s hair or trim their toenails for fear of hurting them. If you have people working or volunteering for you who are skilled and confident in doing this, you could offer their services to pet-owning supporters for a small fee.
If the animal charity you are fundraising for rescues sick and injured wild animals you could hold an open day to let visitors know about the wildlife that can be found in the natural environment around them and how they can protect and support local wildlife populations. This could include pond-dipping expeditions, nature trails and talks from experts. Depending on the size of your venue and the number of volunteers available to help you, you could invite local artists, craftspeople and food producers to have stalls too, to help pull even more of a crowd.
If your charity has a shelter that houses a variety of different breeds, you could run a competition for supporters in which they have to guess the breeds of your residents. Include a selection of spot prizes for things like the most inventive new name for your most heterogenous mongrel to encourage more entries.
If you have a particularly interesting new arrival, run a competition to name it. Whether it is a three-legged dog with a floppy ear or a hedgehog that has stowed away in a compost bin, people will love to hear their story and enjoy thinking of a name that helps to reflect what they have been through.
Adults and children will love the opportunity to get creative, writing short stories and poems or drawing and painting pictures for inclusion in an anthology that can be printed and sold to raise funds for your animal charity.
Top Tip - Encourage more submissions by running it as a competition, with various different categories. Keep it as relevant as possible to your cause by basing the categories around the animals in the shelter.
A funny pet video will be shared online multiple times. Capitalise on this by running a competition asking people to submit the funniest video they have of their pet. You can create a shortlist of finalists and then ask your followers and their contacts to vote for the winner. This should do wonders for your charity’s social media stats, as well as raise valuable funds for the cause.
Like Crufts but for the scruffiest and most mischievous dogs in the neighbourhood. A fun dog show will generate more interest than a serious one and get a lot of laughs along the way. Charge a small fee to enter each class and invest in smart rosettes for the winners, as the chances are they don’t win prizes very often!
Most pet owners have bits of kit in which their beloved pets have shown little or no interest from the start. Whether that is a toy that mysteriously never hit the spot, a box of biscuits they bulk bought just before the dog decided it no longer liked them or a pet bed that they rejected from day one because the sofa was more comfortable. A bring and buy sale is an opportunity for people to de-clutter their homes of good quality pet products they no longer need and a chance for your charity to benefit from the proceeds.
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